If I could have lived at the turn of the last century, I would have wanted a house designed by either of the two giants of the English Arts & Crafts Movement, Edwin Lutyens and Charles Francis Annesley Voysey. The latter architect was also known for his furniture and textile designs and his English residential architecture draws inspiration from the vernacular buildings of the English countryside. He was also one of the first designers to appreciate how significant the impact of industrial design would be.
Annapolis based architect Chip Bohl drew inspiration from Voysey’s work when he was retained by a Washington based couple who wanted a weekend and summer retreat on the Eastern Shore for themselves and their young son. Bohl had designed a kitchen for the wife’s cousin which the couple had greatly admired so they knew they had found their architect and began their search for the right property. They found a spectacular waterfront site with a less than spectacular 1925 house whose initial charm had been lost during a 1960’s neo-Colonial revival. The couple and Bohl then began a ten year collaboration to update the house, guest house and detached studio/ workshop as well as the design of a new caretaker’s cottage.
When I saw the side elevation of the main house, framed by mature landscaping, I was immediately reminded of Voysey’s style. The massing and materials of smooth stucco, dark window trim and 6/1 Craftsman style windows paid homage to Voysey. The house’s large rooms, high ceilings and period detailing were enhanced by adding larger windows and fixed glass panels to open up the house to the water views. The screened porch on the corner of the house was rebuilt with large expanses of bronze screening panels for minimal glare. The small windows and doors leading to the screened porch were replaced with tall French doors to maximize the view and to capture the summer breezes. A new terrace was added next to the screened porch to extend enjoyment of the outdoors.
The charming guest cottage was completely renovated. New large double hung windows and a terrace were added to enhance the views of the water. The interior was reconfigured to create a more open living-dining-kitchen space. Areas of the ceiling plane were raised to add volume to the rooms and the sculptured ceilings created by adding troughs and other cut-away elements hid the light sources from view. The result is soft, indirect, ambient lighting that highlights the forms of the ceiling and roof structure.
The details of the house and guest house are outstanding. The main house kitchen is simply exquisite- I loved the ingenious detail of the table that extends through the window and the sensuous stucco curvature of the stove hood. In the guest house bedroom, two free-standing closets (or cupboards as the English say) flank a window seat below a window with an arched header. Instead of surface mounted hardware to open the doors, a bookmatched design is carved into each wood door and the teardrop shape at the bottom is perfectly shaped for one’s hand to open the door. On the exterior, stained triangular wood brackets project underneath the deep eaves and are mounted to the window jambs. A similar treatment creates a canopy over the front door.
The decade of work on this property exhibits Bohl’s signature style of embracing ambiguity. The historic homes that dot the Eastern Shore were built over time in many phases as the needs or tastes of generations of homeowners evolved. Echoes of past historic styles or details are seen in his work for a particular project as he strives to replicate the rich character of the architecture and interior details from the past. Voysey would be very pleased.
Architect: Bohl Architects, www.bohlarchitects.com, 410.263.2200, Chip@BohlArchitects.com
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.